What is internal networking? Its benefits and how-to tips

If you work in a large organisation, then internally networking with such a vast pool of talent can be hugely beneficial. We'll show you how to do it below - no business cards needed.


We’ve spoken about networking and its benefits at length before, usually with a focus on the external variety – the kind where you connect with people outside of your office at events and conferences.

But did you know you can take a similar approach internally and network within your own organisation? There’s an incredible amount of experience, skills and talent across the workplace which you can benefit from – whether it’s someone you work with on a daily basis, or someone you only see in passing on the corridor.

Below, we’ll run through internal networking in more detail, show just how it can benefit your career and some top tips and strategies for how to network internally with the top talent you work with.

What is internal networking?

As the name suggests, internal networking is the process of connecting with colleagues within the same organisation. You don’t have to work with them, and your job doesn’t require you to do so. It’s completely optional of course, but it’s a process that has many benefits in store for those who pursue it.

While it’s not mentioned anywhere near as much about external networking, it’s still a great way to source ideas and inspiration outside of the silos you may have found yourself in lately.

What are the benefits of networking internally?

Internal networking can help your career development and professional development in all sorts of different ways, including the following…

– Improved job performance

When you get to know colleagues well, the stronger bonds you create make for a greater sense of collaboration, one that goes both ways. When you’re struggling with a certain task, you know just the person or people to approach to help you. Likewise, if they’re finding something a challenge, then they’ll know to come to you. In these kinds of situations everyone can benefit, learning or teaching something that lets the other party improve their own performance.

– More opportunities internally

Because internal networking works cross-office, between teams and within different disciplines, the work and ideas you offer in different scenarios can have a powerful effect on your own standing within the organisation itself. That positive name you make for yourself won’t go unnoticed, and that’s when other opportunities will start to present themselves.

– Greater productivity

By fostering greater communication and collaboration, the flow of information becomes smoother and more streamlined. The result? Employees who are more productive since they aren’t held up trying to find the relevant information they need to carry out their duties with.

– Increased engagement

A connected network of employees is a powerful one, allowing once-disengaged workers to become more empowered, engaged and satisfied in their roles. Why is this? When employees are part of a network, it allows them to understand how employees from different teams fit into the business more, as well as how their own efforts contribute to the business as a whole too. As such, they become more motivated to achieve these goals and overcome the challenges that stand in their way.

– Cross-company sharing of knowledge

Since people from disparate teams and disciplines are now on familiar teams with each other, knowledge can be shared more readily. Through the improve communication that internal networking brings with it, everything from new ideas to learning processes can be spread and shared throughout relevant teams and employees, allowing others to benefit from new, more effective ways of working.

 

 

How to network internally

– Start simple

If you’re looking to dip a toe into internal networking, then a good place to start is simply introducing yourself to others in passing. When you see someone you recognise but haven’t been introduced to in the corridor, break the ice yourself. Let them know your name, the fact you’ve seen them around and that you just wanted to say hello. When you see them again, strike up another conversation.

– Get involved elsewhere

There are all sorts of opportunities to mingle in the workplace – socially and professionally. If there’s any kind of formal employee committee, inquire about becoming a member. Make an effort to attend any upcoming social functions, and if these don’t exist, take the initiative and organise a team lunch of cross-department mixer. Here, you’ll get a chance to meet others across your organisation, learn what their roles entail and potentially open up new career opportunities.

– Create online chat groups

Office messaging tools like Slack are a simple, effective way of expanding your internal network. Try creating a channel specifically for groups to ask questions in, request resources through, or even just to let others know about what they do within the company.

Not only is it an unobtrusive way to communicate with others you haven’t met previously, but it’s also a useful means to share insights so that everyone can benefit.

– Research your employees

If you’ve spotted someone you feel could add to your professional research, then make sure to do your homework on them before you get in touch. Here’s where LinkedIn comes in handy. Find their profile on there, and you’ll more than likely find a plethora information about their job history, the projects they’re part of and their preferred ways of working. Here you can then identify common ground, gaps you could potentially fill or additional skills you could learn from them.

– Show you’re committed

A great way to increase your standing across teams and disciplines is to offer to help with internal projects, however big or small they are. In doing so, you’ll show your commitment to the greater good of the business and be able to benefit from the knowledge and skills of the people you’re working with.

As you add more contacts to this network, the work ethic, abilities and dedication you’ve displayed serve to make you visible to others – a fact that could well create further opportunities for you in the future.

– Avoid being too sales-y

There’s an inherent element of “I’ll scratch my back, if you scratch mine” to internal networking. The idea is to create mutually beneficial relationships, after all. But if you’re planning to internally network with the view that you’re in it for yourself, then people will likely see through the act.

When you’ve identified people you want to network with, be genuine in your approach and try not to hog the spotlight. Listen to what people have to say about themselves, and pay attention to what they do, rather than giving them the elevator pitch right off the bat. By offering an attentive ear, you’ll learn what’s important to them, which lets you identify what you might be able to offer them – and vice versa.

– Respect others’ time

When and where you approach others is another important part of internal networking, so make sure to get it right. If a colleague is delivering a presentation, then trying to fight for their attention afterwards – when everyone else has the same idea – is going to be difficult. A better, more memorable approach might be to strike up a conversation before their talk.

Or say you’re looking to connect with a member of senior management or someone higher. Their schedule is likely to be pretty full, in which case it might be better to get in touch with their assistant to see if they can set up a formal introduction for you.

To find out more about careers at SEFE Marketing & Trading please visit our homepage.

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